It means nothing to me: Kohli on possibly surpassing Dhoni's record of most Test wins at home - The Daily Guardian
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It means nothing to me: Kohli on possibly surpassing Dhoni’s record of most Test wins at home

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 23 (ANI): Virat Kohli is only a win away from surpassing Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s tally of most Test victories by an Indian captain at home, but for Kohli the record means nothing in front of the camaraderie he shares with Dhoni.
Both Dhoni and Kohli have successfully led India in 21 games at home and Kohli will have a chance to overtake the former skipper in the pink-ball Test against England which gets underway from Wednesday.
“That record (surpassing Dhoni in captaincy) means nothing to me. Records are looked at from an individual point of view and we don’t play sport for those records,” said Kohli on the eve of the third Test.
The India skipper pointed out how he had never focused on personal milestones. Kohli wants the same from the person who would next captain India in the future.
“Be it individual’s record as a batsman or number of wins as captains, it is a responsibility given to me and I’m trying to do my best. This has always been the case and will remain the same, as long as I play the game. These are fickle things which look great from the outside compared to individuals but it doesn’t matter to me,” said Kohli.
“We (Kohli and Dhoni) share a great camaraderie, and mutual respect is something you hold really closely to your heart and I understand the importance and significance of that. I have a responsibility to keep Team India on top, and the same applies to someone who takes over after me,” he added.
The four-match series between India and England currently stands level at 1-1. The two teams will now lock horns in the third Test at the Motera Stadium. (ANI)

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IPL 2021 to begin from April 9, MI to play RCB in opener

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 7 (ANI): The IPL Governing Council on Sunday announced the schedule for Indian Premier League 2021 to be held in India across six venues from April 9.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Chennai in the tournament opener.
“After nearly two years, the IPL extravaganza will return home with Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata hosting the marquee event,” the BCCI said in a statement on Sunday.
The final of the 14th edition of the tournament will be played on May 30 at Narendra Modi Stadium. Playoffs will also be played at the same venue.
“The World’s Largest Cricket Stadium – Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad will host the Playoffs as well as the final on 30th May, 2021 which promises to be a visual spectacle. The newly-built stadium that hosted India’s second pink-ball fixture at home with great grandeur will host its first-ever IPL,” the release read.

The BCCI said that this IPL will be played “behind closed doors to begin with and a call on allowing spectators will be taken at a later stage of the tournament”.
“The fixtures of the tournament have been mapped in a way that every team will travel only three times during the league stage, thus reducing commute and minimising risk,” it added.
Each team is set to play at four venues during the league stage. Out of the 56 league matches, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru will host 10 matches each while Ahmedabad and Delhi will host 8 matches each.
One of the highlights of this edition of the IPL will be the fact that all matches will be played at neutral venues, no team will play at their home venue. All teams will play at 4 out of 6 venues during the league stage.
There will be a total of 11 doubleheaders where 6 teams will play three afternoon matches and two teams will play two afternoon matches. The afternoon games are slated for a 3:30 PM IST start while the evening games will have a 7:30 PM IST start.
“After hosting the tournament safely and successfully in the UAE last year with all safety protocols in place, the BCCI is confident of hosting the IPL at home with health and safety of players and all people involved being paramount,” the release concluded. (ANI)

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Sundar has more natural ability than I ever had, says Shastri

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 7 (ANI): India head coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday said that all-rounder Washington Sundar has more natural ability than he ever did during his playing career.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England. Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
Sundar had played an unbeaten knock of 96 runs in the first innings as the hosts went on to take a lead of 160 runs in the fourth Test. Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
“Washington Sundar has far more natural ability than I had. I think he should be batting in top-four for his state, there is no question about that. I think he should be batting in the top four, he is good enough and he belongs there. At the same time, if he can focus on his bowling, India would have a very good number six in the future. Somebody who could get you a 60-70 and then bowl for you. That was my role at number six, and I think he can do the same role and even better,” said Shastri during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“Sundar has unbelievable composure and temperament. For someone, who was an opening batsman during the U-19 days but to see that kind of body langugage, unfazed by the best bowlers in the world during the toughest situations, as in Brisbane and Chennai. It was unreal, this innings in the fourth Test is even better than Brisbane because you are playing at home and you have a World Championship on the line. 50 adrift from the opposition and you are batting with Pant, yes you have Axar to come in next but your objective is to get closer to 205.
“These youngsters are not thinking of that, they are playing normal and fearless cricket. They are playing free cricket, and then they went on to get 360,” he added.
When asked about how the fielding of India improved after the first Test against England, Shastri said: “Fielding coach is outstanding, I do not need to have a word with him. We have been in a bubble for the last five months, we have played eight Tests. In my time, probably you would play these many Tests in a year. In 70 days, they played eight Tests living in a bubble. Oppositions were England and Australia, mental fatigue would be there and you would drop catches.”
“We were not the only team that dropped catches, Australia dropped as many catches as us, if not more. The fact is when we had to take those catches to win Test matches. We did, that’s all I want to remember, nothing else. Our fielding coach (R Sridhar) is the best in the world, understated and he is an Indian, he is one of the best,” he added.
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position.
The Black Caps had qualified for the WTC final following the postponement of the Test series between South Africa and Australia. In November last year, the ICC had confirmed that the WTC points system would be amended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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Odisha gears up to host 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021

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New Delhi [India], March 7 (ANI): The Department of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha and Naval Tata Hockey Academy Odisha are getting prepared to host the 1st Hockey India Junior and Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 from March 17 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will be held from March 17 to 26 while the 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will be organized from March 17 to 25.
The Kalinga Hockey Stadium has hosted several big international competitions such as the Hockey Men’s World Cup in 2018 and the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in 2019. Therefore, it will be a fantastic opportunity for the players competing in the 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 and 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 to showcase their talent in a historic stadium.
The 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will have six days of pool matches followed by quarterfinals on March 23. The semi-finals and the final will take place on March 25 and 26 respectively. A total of 15 teams will be part of the tournament.
The 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will have six days of pool matches followed by semifinals on March 24 with 3rd/ 4th place and final will take place on March 25. A total of 10 teams will be part of the tournament.
Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha, Vishal K. Dev, IAS said, “We are very excited to host the 1st Hockey India Junior and Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021, here at the Kalinga Stadium. The competition will provide a brilliant platform to the academy players to test their skills and evolve into better hockey players.”
He added, “We have put in place guidelines to ensure the safety of all the persons involved in both the competitions.”
Along with following the Hockey India SOPs, all the persons involved in the 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 and 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will also strictly follow the guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of Odisha and all athletes and officials will need to have the Aaroya Setu app on their devices. They must also follow physical distancing measures at all locations, except athletes on the field. The Department of Sports & Youth Services, Government of Odisha and Naval Tata Hockey Academy Odisha will also appoint Hygiene Officers who will be present at the venue to monitor the participants’ well-being during both the competitions. (ANI)

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Had to dig deep to find water: Shastri on WTC final qualification

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 7 (ANI): India head coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday said that his side had to dig deep in order to qualify for the World Test Championship (WTC) final as the rules were changed midway due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
“I am not worried about the next WTC cycle, I am thinking of the first cycle. If you ask me about the problems in the first cycle, please do not shift the goalpost. I am sitting at home during Covid-19, right in the month of October-November. You have got more points than any other team in the world. 360 at that time, suddenly, a week later without playing any cricket, there is a rule that comes stating that the points would be decided on the percentage system and go from number one to three. Fine, that’s because of countries not wanting to travel, all acceptable and fine.
“I want to understand the logic behind this, what is the way forward for me? I have to go to Australia, sitting comfortably at the top spot, leading by 60-70 points. They say you have to go to Australia, you have to beat Australia. How many teams in the last ten years can say with guarantee that we will beat Australia? The reason I am saying this, you are sitting at the top of the table, percentage system, you have to go to Australia and beat Australia. If you do not beat Australia, you come back home and beat England 4-0, you get close to 500 points and you still do not qualify. We have had to dig deep, we have had to go down every hole that is needed to find water. Do not ask me about the next cycle, first, let’s finish this cycle,” he added.
Speaking about the big squads that were picked because of Covid-19 and quarantine protocols, Shastri said: “This is the most positive thing to come out of this bubble because of the bubble, you had to go with large squads. Because of the bubbles and quarantine rules, you had to go with 25-30 players. As a result, you had to dig deep and pick your best 30 players and as luck would have it, we had no choice to play every member. You found out who is good and who is not. It is a good headache to have and it is something that has worked well. If you said Natarajan would play a Test match, you would have said no way. Even Washington Sundar, you would have said no way. These are things you would not imagine but circumstances make it happen. I am glad the youngsters who got the opportunity cracked it open.”
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position.
The Black Caps had qualified for the WTC final following the postponement of the Test series between South Africa and Australia. In November last year, the ICC had confirmed that the WTC points system would be amended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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Test squad members Thirimanne, De Silva and 3 others leave for West Indies

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Colombo [Sri Lanka], March 7 (ANI): Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) informed that Test squad members Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Roshen Silva, Vishwa Fernando and Lasith Embuldeniya have left for the West Indies on Saturday night.
“Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Roshen Silva, Vishwa Fernando and Lasith Embuldeniya left for Caribbean last night. The players from part of the squad, which will play the test series vs West Indies. #WIvSL,” SLC tweeted.
On Saturday, SLC announced the 17-member squad for the two-match Test series against West Indies starting from March 21 and named Dimuth Karunaratne as skipper.
“The National Cricket Selectors have chosen the following squad to play the 02 Match Test Series vs West Indies. The squad was approved by the Minister of Youth and Sports Honorable Namal Rajapaksa,” the SLC had said in an official statement.
Earlier, Sri Lanka all-rounder Dasun Shanaka, who had missed the flight to West Indies due to an issue related to securing his visa, will now travel on Sunday to join his teammates.
Shanaka, who was named in the ‘White Ball Squad’ for West Indies series, did not travel with the team due to a visa issue he confronted, pursuant to the loss of his previous passport, which had a valid visa for the USA stamped on it.
Sri Lanka Cricket on Friday said that the all-rounder will now travel to West Indies via France and is expected to join the national team during the ODI segment of the tour.
Sri Lanka and West Indies are currently locking horns in the T20I series. West Indies defeated Sri Lanka in the first T20I on Wednesday (local time) but the visitors made a comeback displaying an all-round performance in the second T20I on Friday (local time). Both teams would now lock horns in the third and final T20I on Sunday.
After the T20I series, West Indies will shift focus towards the 50-over format. The first ODI between Sri Lanka and West Indies will be played on March 10.
Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (Captain), Dasun Shanaka, Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Roshen Silva, Dhananjaya De Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Asitha Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Embuldeniya. (ANI)

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‘Will take it to my grave’: Moriba after scoring first senior goal for Barca

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Navarre [Spain], March 7 (ANI): After scoring his maiden goal for Barcelona, midfielder Ilaix Moriba said he “will take it to his grave”.
Moriba scored in Barca’s 2-0 victory over Osasuna at the El Sadar Stadium on Sunday. The win moved Ronald Koeman’s side to within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid, who take on their city rivals Real.
The 18-year-old collected Lionel Messi’s pass on the edge of the area before cutting on his left foot and curling a wonderful effort into the top corner, doubling Barca’s advantage after Jordi Alba’s first-half strike.
“Leo gave me a good pass and I don’t know how I cut and shot with the left, and thank God it went in. I will never forget this and I will take it to my grave. There’s competition for places but it doesn’t matter if you are young or not. If you play well you’re in the team,” Moriba told Barca TV.
“The older players help us, give us advice, Leo tells me to get in the area as often as I can and get in positions to shoot. I want to dedicate this goal to my father and La Masia, where I have learned a lot from,” he added.
Moriba also insisted that Barcelona had not given up on the title, despite leaders Atletico having two games in hand.
“La Liga isn’t over for us. We will fight till the end. That is the DNA they taught us at La Masia,” the midfielder said.
Barcelona will next take on Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League on March 11. (ANI)

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